Picks for Week 1 of SIFF 2008

Elegy (at IMDB)

How many films have you seen about a romantic relationship between a Professor and one of his students? or from another perspective, between an older man and a younger woman? So many that I’ve lost count. This adaptation of a Philip Roth novel explorers how its characters face mortality by examining their insecurities and…oh hell, it’s a great movie, go see it.

Mermaid (at IMDB)

A Russian movie, complete with Russian sailors. It reminds me a lot of Amélie, The Fifth Element, and The Science of Sleep, but as a coming of age tale. Alisa doesn’t have a strong grasp of reality, but does it matter? As a giant cell phone and pint of beer is how she roams the streets of Moscow working her “day” job. She wants to be a ballerina. She kills off her ice cream craving grandmother in comical fashion. This will be one of my favorites at this year’s festival.

Vexille (at IMDB)

Set in the mid 21st century, Japan has isolated itself from the rest of the world and embarked on creating an ultra high tech society. There are sand worm made of metal, wastelands and walls around cities, and a navy strike force sent in by the Americans to expose a rising threat. The biggest problem I had with this anime was the melodramatic relationships between some of its characters, they detracted from the script and movie as a whole. Also, I’m not used to fluid CGI animation, I grew up watching drawn stuff. If you can get past those elements, it’s well worth seeing.

Ballast (at IMDB)

How much do you disclose about a film in a review? There are a couple of subtle facts which evade the audience for quite some time in this movie. It’s about a brother and wife dealing with suicide in a very small town. In fact, I would not call it a town, it’s just a zip code. It’s minimalistic and slow, very slow, but well worth seeing. I hear that it played at Berlin and Sundance, so take that into account.